Convicted killer set free by mistake

September 16, 2006|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,sun reporter

Man who violated probation was guilty in '89 murder of his mother A convicted murderer who spent years in prison before regaining his freedom through a reduced sentence, only to have his probation revoked, was mistakenly released this week after serving less than three months of a new seven-year term, a state parole commission official said yesterday.

Brian J. Dancik, convicted in 1989 of beating his mother to death in her Pikesville home, was set free after serving 76 days of the seven-year prison term imposed in June.

"It's certainly a mistake that we all regret," said David Blumberg, chairman of the Maryland Parole Commission. "As soon as we were notified [yesterday] of this man's release, we aggressively pursued other options."

A bench warrant was issued for Dancik's arrest last night in Talbot County, where he reported yesterday morning for his first meeting with an agent of the parole and probation department. Dancik was taken into custody about 10:45 last night and was taken to the Caroline County Detention Center, Blumberg said. He will be transferred to a division of correction facility for a new hearing before the parole commission.

S. Ann Brobst, a Baltimore County assistant state's attorney who prosecuted the 1989 murder case and handled all the subsequent modification and violation of probation hearings, expressed outrage yesterday that Dancik had been released.

"Sometimes these things are subtle," she said. "But if somebody's on probation for murder and violates their probation and gets seven years to serve, they shouldn't get out in 10 weeks."

Dancik, 50, was convicted in November 1989 of murder in the death of his mother, Veronica "Ronnie" Roman, 63, whose face and head was badly beaten, according to court documents.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Joseph F. Murphy Jr. sentenced him to 30 years in prison.

The judge agreed in 1999 to reduce Dancik's sentence to 20 years, and the convicted killer was released in September 2002 and placed on five years' probation.

But five months later, in February 2003, Dancik was arrested in Easton and charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon - a knife, according to the parole commission.

He was convicted and sentenced to the 17 months he had already spent in jail awaiting trial on the knife charge. He was released July 28, 2004.

But fewer than 13 months later, Dancik was back in custody, charged with burglary, theft and malicious destruction of property in Kent County.

A jury acquitted him of those charges. But the state department of parole and probation issued a warrant for Dancik in September 2005, charging him with his failure to pay $2,520 in supervision fees and for concerns "that he was a threat to himself or others due to problems with psychiatric issues," Blumberg, the parole commission chairman, said.

At a May 11 hearing, Parole Commissioner Nancy L. Murphy wrote in her order that she was revoking 1,200 of the 2,400 days of credit that Dancik had earned while in prison for activities such as sharing a cell with another inmate, taking classes and good conduct, Blumberg said.

That meant that Dancik would have to serve about 3 1/2 years for technical violations of his release.

Murphy, however, misspoke in the hearing, Blumberg said, saying she was revoking 200 of his credits. The oral directive stood.

When Judge Joseph Murphy decided June 29 in Baltimore County Circuit Court to sentence Dancik to an additional seven years in prison for violating the probation on his 1989 murder charge, the judge credited the inmate with the time he had served since being locked up on the probation violation in August 2005.

Those 328 days of credit - combined with the 2,200 days Dancik had after the discrepancy in the parole commissioner's orders- meant he had 2,528 days, or almost seven years, of credit.

That bumped his release date from May 15, 2009 to Thursday.jennifer.mcmenamin @baltsun.com

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